There are eyebrow-raising reports coming out of Italy surrounding Napoli, reports that an American effort to buy a major share of the club has been rejected by Aurelio De Laurentiis, who told them the team is not for sale.
According to those reports, an as-of-yet unidentified group of U.S. investors offered to buy 49% of the club's shares, leaving the De Laurentiis family holding 51% and still barely holding a majority ownership of the club. The size of the bid is currently unknown, though by the €311 million valuation of the club made by Forbes in 2015, a 49% bid would be worth roughly €152 million.
The group apparently also offered to invest heavily in Napoli's stadium project, be that an extensive renovation of the Stadio San Paolo or building a new stadium. Such an offer would hold tremendous value to the club -- but Aurelio De Laurentiis apparently felt that was apparently not worth giving up almost half of his family's ownership stake.
It's a reasonable position to take from his perspective -- after all, he's guided Napoli from Serie C to becoming one of the best sides in all of Italy, and has turned the club into a financially stable outfit with no debt, despite suffering a rare financial operating loss last season. That's a rarity in Italy, and something ADL would be proud of and want to continue at all costs.
Still, it's hard to see Napoli taking that next step without finding some way to boost their revenues. Using a major investment like this to help fund a stadium project would be a good way to do that, though perhaps finding a way to do it without giving up that large an ownership stake would be preferable to De Laurentiis.
There were rumors a little over a year ago that De Laurentiis was selling a major stake in the club to Saudi investors, but those turned out to only be rumors. That said, this probably won't be the last time we hear about investors wanting a big piece of Napoli. That's just what happens when a team gets successful.
This also likely won't be the last we hear about Americans trying to buy Serie A clubs -- the investment group is apparently still interested in buying a big share of an Italian team, and will likely move on to secondary targets after being rejected. Two teams are already owned by Americans -- Roma and Bologna. Soon we may have a third American-owned club in Serie A, but it won't be Napoli.